Las Vegas police: Body found in barrel at Lake Mead may have been there for decades

Hemenway Harbor boat launch is where the human remains inside of a barrel washed up onto shore Sunday afternoon.
Hemenway Harbor boat launch is where the human remains inside of a barrel washed up onto shore Sunday afternoon.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 3:38 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said a body found in a barrel at Lake Mead over the weekend may date back to the 1980s.

One man said there with young children around when it happened. He said it was a scary sight.

“It just so crazy,” said Las Vegas resident Daniel Ruiz. “It started out as just a normal day at the lake and that is just the craziest thing I have seen at Lake Mead.

“My fiancé's little cousins were there, and they are about 10 and 12 years old and is just something you really don’t want them seeing,” said Ruiz.

LVMPD homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said from examination and additional evidence they found, they believe the barrel was left in the lake sometime in the 1980′s.

Where the barrel was found was roughly 100 feet under water and several hundred yards from shore 40 years ago, according to Spencer.

“Had the water level not receded so far, we never make the discovery,” Spencer said.

Metro said while this may be the first time they have discovered remains due to low lake levels, they said it may not be the last as the levels may continue to drop.

Spencer said they will be reaching out to UNLV or scientists who can help estimate duration of the metal and sea life on the barrel.

“The number one goal right now is to try to figure out if we can identify him, because it will be a very challenging part of this investigation,” Spencer said.

As for Ruiz, he doesn’t plan to make any more visits to what used to be his favorite lake.

“I would rather just go to a better beach now,” said Ruiz. “Just to not see anything scary like that.”

Metro said they started to look through missing cases dating back to the 1980′s to try and identify the victim and there is not direct timeline of how long it will take to identify the victim. They say it is possible they may never get the answers they are looking for.

“We will look into our missing person cases from that timeframe to see if we could get a lead even prior to the DNA,” Spencer said. “There are some items we recovered that we will look through missing person cases to see if there’s even a potential. Granted it’s a needle in a haystack, but right now we have nothing to go on.”

Spencer said it will take months to know if they will be able to extract DNA to help identify the victim.